Sunday, May 24, 2015

Two Things That a Blue-Faced Alien Taught be About Relationships

Happy Pentecost!!!!

Happy Pentecost from the Boise airport!!!!!!
Today, I feel like I could be in The Terminal. My husband and I are in the process of traveling from Ohio to Washington, and our flight plan has included many long layovers in the airport. I seriously have been thinking about how cool it'd be to befriend all of the people who work here and make myself at home (especially the people who manned the desks at the gates in the Minneapolis airport; they were all super cool. They would talk to each other across the room over the microphones, crack jokes to us passengers while we waited to board, and were very nice to all of us). So I've been praying and hanging out with my husband, having great conversations with lots of random people (the Solemnity Hat has been a wonderful conversation-starter today), reading Nicholas Nickleby for the first time (highly recommend it so far!), and now, in the last couple hours of our final layover, catching up on a blog post that I've been meaning to write for a couple of weeks. A few weeks ago, we re-watched Guardians of the Galaxy. It was the second time I've seen the full movie, and one of the same elements jumped out at me. So I feel the need to share my thoughts with y'all, if you wish to read them! 

In the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, we are presented with many beautiful interactions between some rather misfit characters. This movie is a joy to watch, and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend that you do so (though you might want to be aware that this movie has quite a bit more bad language than other Marvel superhero movies that I’ve seen, so keep that mute button handy if you wish!). In this movie, there is a blue alien Centaurian-guy named Yondu. I’ve heard that he’s portrayed a bit differently than in the comics, and since I’ve only seen the movie, my comments will only concern that. Also, I do not claim to be a pro on comic-lore, so please excuse any misrepresentations of the characters, and know that I’m trying! J

Towards the beginning of the movie, Yondu picks up the main character of Guardians, Peter Quill, from Earth. And throughout the movie, Yondu doesn’t let Peter forget this fact. The following exchange happens in when Quill is an adult, several years after Yondu took him off of Earth:

Yondu: When I picked you up on Terra...
Peter Quill: "Picked me up."
Yondu: ...these boys of mine wanted to eat you.
Peter Quill: Yeah?
They ain't never tasted any Terran before. I stopped 'em. You're alive because of me!
Yondu is throwing it into Quill’s face that he, Yondu, saved Quill—and because of this, Quill is indebted to him. Kind of weird to bring that up, right? Well, when we think about it, how many times do we say or do something similar to another person? But let’s look back at the movie. Fast-forward several scenes. Later on in the storyline, Peter Quill, in an exchange with Yondu, hits a chord that resounds deeply (at least, with me):

Yondu: When I picked you up as a kid, these boys wanted to eat you. They ain't never tasted Terran before. I saved your life!
Peter Quill: Oh, will you shut up about that? [...] Twenty years, you've been throwing that in my face, like it's some great thing, not eating me! Normal people don't even think about eating someone else! Much less that person having to be grateful for it! You abducted me, man. You stole me from my home and from my family.

So, Quill and Yondu have a weird relationship, and it may be a bit uncomfortable to some people. Just watch the movie makes it apparent that they’re both quite strange. But what may be exceptionally unsettling is how many times we can all fall into the behavior that Yondu displays in these two scenes. Like I previously stated, how many times do we bring up a past occurrence that we did for another person? And how does this Yondu-like behavior hold us back from the intimacy and love in any kind of relationship that we are called to?

Photo courtesy of Marvel as used in this article
Yondu, in his words, is not fully in the present. He’ll bring up something that happened twenty years ago, and try to pressure Peter with this past incident. Twenty years! While I’m guessing that many of us aren’t that extreme, I’ve still seen this attitude in people (myself included). “Well, remember when that happened last week/month/year? Yeah, you totally owe me one.” And if we don’t say it, many times we at least think this. But we can’t live in the past; we are called to live in the present moment, and our relationships cannot remain static, frozen in one point of time.  Take a look at these epic words of St. Gianna (because saint quotes are awesome, let’s be honest): “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day." Live in the present moment. Don't worry about what did or did not happen in the past; move on with yourself and get over it--and accept the gift of a relationship in the present moment. It's great that you and I took care of that person while he or she was sick, helped that old guy out, stayed up all night with a heartbroken friend or child, etc. But please, we can't live in the past and hold it over the other person's head later on!!! 

Yondu’s words are not displaying selfless love. Sure, he might appear to have selfless love when it comes to his relationship with Quill, but how are his words expressing it? In his words, Yondu seems to be focusing on a charitable action that he did for Quill, and acting like Quill owes him something because of this action. Again, I know that I’ve done this before; there have been times where I’ll do something really awesome and “charitable,” but then, even if I don’t say as much, I still think about how I want some sort of return on that gift. Instead of thinking about the other, I’ll think about myself. Is this what love is supposed to be, in the greatest, fullest, deepest sense???? Let’s look at one tiny sample (sadly, I don’t have a copy of L&R on me right now, or else I’d launch into a longer ramble) from one of my favorite sources, St. JPII: “Friendship, as has been said, consists in a full commitment of the will to another person with a view to that person's good.” ~Karol Wojtyla, Love and Responsibility. I want to reiterate: “view to that person’s good.” This love, in friendship, is directed to the other—and how much more is this true in a marriage? 

So what has this blue Centaurian taught me about relationships? To live in the present and to be totally selfless in actions AND in words. Behaving otherwise will hinder a love from deepening and bringing two people into more tremendous intimacy as friends, siblings, children, or lovers. Let’s learn from Yondu’s words, and avoid falling into the selfish view of love that he occasionally portrays.

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